Notre Dame's graduate program in English provides world-class opportunities for study across all areas of literature. We offer three degree options: a Ph.D. in English, an MFA in creative writing, and an M.A. in English and American Literature

Why pursue graduate studies in English at Notre Dame?

Graduate Students In Seminar

As a student here, you will work with faculty at the leading edge of their fields, gain access to excellent resources, receive generous support, and participate in a dynamic and inclusive intellectual community.

Our programs of study are both flexible and structured, allowing you to achieve a high level of specialization while cultivating a broad understanding of literature and literary cultures.

In our teaching and mentorship, we aim to help you integrate an understanding of literature and its history with an investigation of contemporary questions and problems. This commitment to students is enhanced by our small class sizes. We offer a wide range of classes–around 12 a year—and give you leeway to choose among them.

Our department is home to an outstanding MFA program that hosts its own events and readings, and whose students will share interests and classes with Ph.D. and M.A. students. A lively English Graduate Students Association provides social and scholarly programming throughout the year.


A dynamic graduate faculty

Over the past decade, our department has grown at a rate unrivaled in most of the country. New hires have built our expertise in emerging areas and have complemented existing expertise. Areas of particular focus include Medieval studies, Early Modern literature, Romantic literature, American Literature, Irish literature, gender studies, religion and literature, race and ethnicity studies, digital humanities, and media studies. Our faculty have outstanding publication records and have had great success at securing grants from entities such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and more. 

A lively intellectual community 

Gradutate Students Seated Smiling

Graduate students and faculty convene regularly beyond coursework in our various area seminars, which focus on student research and serve as one of many forums for visiting speakers. As a department we also host two annual endowed lectures in which graduate students play an active part, attending talks and workshops and meeting more informally with speakers over meals or coffee.

An interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research is supported by partnerships with other units on campus, including the departments of History, Philosophy, and Theology, as well as the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, the Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society, the Initiative on Race and Resilience, the Institute for Latino Studies, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, and the Medieval Institute. We also maintain strong relationships with off-campus partners such as the Folger Shakespeare Library and Folger Institute, the Newberry Library, and the Cornell School of Criticism and Theory.

Dominique Vargas

 “The English Ph.D. program is intellectually rigorous and engaging, but it also encourages me to think beyond course material and exams to envision myself within the field. I have found support in a community of peers, and I have found mentors and colleagues among the world-class faculty who are invested in my success.”

— Dominique Vargas, Ph.D. 2021. Now Assistant Professor of English at California Lutheran University

Our programs

We offer three different options for graduate study:

Ph.D. in English

The Ph.D. in English is a five-year program featuring a flexible curriculum tailored to your interests and a dissertation project that makes an original contribution to literary scholarship. 

MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing is a 2-year, 36-credit program. In their second year, students select a thesis director from the creative writing faculty and embark on the writing of a full-length manuscript—typically a novel, book of poetry, selection of short stories or essays, etc.

M.A. in English and American Literature

The M.A. in English and American Literature is a two-year program designed for those seeking advanced training in literary studies, whether in anticipation of applying to Ph.D. programs at other institutions or as a step toward other opportunities. The program is open to Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College graduates and to students from other institutions with portable funding (e.g., international students with government funding, service members with tuition scholarships for graduate study).


Have questions about the graduate programs in English? Contact:

Susan Cannon Harris

Director of Graduate Studies
Professor of English

Roy Scranton

Director of Creative Writing
Associate Professor of English

Paul Cunningham

Creative Writing Program Manager

Blake Holman

Graduate Studies Coordinator